Walking in Wales

It is strange to see the old branches there
Twisted with thorns on the hillsides, cloud swept
A hundred yards from the mountain peak
centuries cling together, cloud covered

We will follow the restless ravens flight
dark soaring darts as they pierce the hard rocks.
We were given a whole country to keep,
land is proof we insist on still living

The old harps, played in the far distant past,
Are memories dripping from hawthorn leaves
The moss covered seat is hedgerow hidden
Stone monument to old and wise story

I remembered all that I knew of you
As I followed the flow of the river
I’ll walk beside you over many paths,
though they will say you are not beside me

Morning Ritual (a sonnet)

Each day the morning ritual’s the same,
I wake to hear the traffic in the street.
My mother, from her bedroom, calls my name.
I wish that I could stay in longer sleep.
Preparing breakfast, brewing morning tea,
I throw the heavy window open wide
Breathing in cold air, throwing bread and seed
to waiting birds that gather there outside.
But now my lingering dreams all fly away
A Raven came, down swooping from the sky!
His presence here a blessing on the day
My heart awakes and lifts my spirit high.

Mythic bird, bringing darkness from the night
On wings outspread and lifting up in light.

Journey in Ancient Hills

This is a found poem. Found using two index pages from Welsh Folk Lore and Folk Customs by Thomas Gwynn Jones.

Journey in Ancient Hills 

The midwives pour milk and curd into wells,
with molten lead cures.
They bow to the moon,
mumbling magic.
The mountain hag is murdered
by trembling ghosts.

Naked infants, unknown,
with no names,
hear the night howl of dogs
predicting the omen days
of the one-eyed fish,
but no saviour remains.

Lost with my Otherworld lover,
we huddle with ravens
and brindled oxen
against the rain,
protected by trees
at the pre-historic hearth,
making offerings of pins and keys,
awaiting the reformation
and some incorruptible sign
of inseparable souls, at the last

The first little story I ever wrote – which grew into a book

The Day Moon Met the Raven

A man who had for some time been travelling the road in all weathers, sat down at the roadside under a sheltering tree. His jacket was richly embroidered but his leather boots were dusty and worn from long walking. He had little coin in his purse but his pouch was full of papers covered with poems and interesting thoughts gathered here and there. He was tired, too tired to even be capable of assessing his own mood at that moment. He was, he thought, probably content.

As the sun sank and dusk fell he looked up and saw the moon rise and he realised that it was the Autumn Equinox, when the length of the day and the night, darkness and light, are equal. As he relaxed and watched the moon climb higher into the sky his mind drifted and he began to assess his own life, dispassionately. His memory drifted here and there across many years.

Awakening from his trance he realised that he had been joined by a white cat and a raven. He thought they must be hungry and began to feel in his pocket for food of some kind but the Raven, seeing his intention, said,

”Sir, don’t let us trouble you, for we are not hungry. We came to sit beside you only because your appearance interested us.”

With that, they began to discuss him as if he was not there, but also as though they could read all his thoughts.

The cat said ”He seems to me a miserable man with a sad life. Look at his boots and the lines that run down by the sides of his mouth, Raven, and he clearly has no money. I would say he is a terrible failure. He has nothing. He looks homeless and I am convinced he has no wife and no children.”

She paused to clean an ear with her paw and looked thoughtful.

” I expect he has travelled much too, and those types who keep feeling the need to move on seldom manage to keep many friends. Doubtless he is also unemployed or he wouldn’t be sitting here dreaming. It all looks like doom and gloom to me. How very sad! ”

”Squawk,” said the Raven, cocking his head at the man and considering, ” I see him quite differently. I see a man with laughter lines round his eyes and he clearly loves beauty, just look at the jacket he wears! And he may not have much in the way of coin but he is generous with what he does have or he would not have begun to search for food when he saw us. He is kind I think. He does seem to have a lot of papers in his pouch and I suspect, by the dreamy look in his eyes, that they are poems so maybe he has, not a job, but a talent. Also he is tall and strong and I doubt he lacks for food. I suspect he is also armed, a dagger slipped into his boot perhaps.”

The Raven hopped onto the man’s shoulder to get a closer look. The man smiled at that.

”As for being much travelled, well yes, but is it really true to say that a rolling stone gathers no moss? True, he probably has left friends and loved ones behind, but just imagine all he has seen on the way and all of the people he has met. I think he has had a rich life and must be happy and could even be congratulated.”

The Raven and the Cat then proceeded to squabble and the man feared the Raven might be eaten, so he spoke.

”May I interject in this argument for the sake of your peace?”

”Yes, please do”, said the Raven, hoping for an end to the fight and some wisdom.

”I suppose so” said the Cat, shrugging and sounding gloomy, ”Much good may it do, for I expect none.” She sat grooming herself again, looking bored.

”Well” said the man, ”It seems to me that you both see things from only one point of view. You, dear Cat, are entirely negative and this charming Raven sees only the good and the positive in all.”

”So”, said the Cat, expecting to lose the argument, ”Tell me I am wrong then. Go on.”

At that the Raven looked pleased but sighed in a way only a bird can.

”The truth is,” said the man, ”that you are both right but without each other you are both wrong.”

”How so Sir?” said the Raven, looking puzzled.

”I am both happy and sad.” the man replied, ”The sum of all you say is true. But if only the negative was true I would just sit here and give up and if only the positive part were true then I would have learned nothing. The positive and the negative work together in my life. Joy is my desire and I have often had it but I know that sorrow, which I also have had, can bring depth to feeling and we can’t appreciate the one without the other. So I sit in the middle and am content. We all need balance!”

With that, the man stood up.

”I will continue my journey now”, he said. ”I wish you both well and safe paths.”

The cat turned her back and pretended to look at something else, as Cats always do when embarrassed and the Raven said,

”Sir I will come with you if I may. I have always liked travel. I sense that you are restless at night and perhaps when you are tired I can lighten your day?”

The man smiled and nodded his head. As he began to walk off he said, under his breathe,

‘’Gold leaves spin, falling, bringing sadness and delight. The balance is held.’’

 

 

Wayfarer

when i am fire
i burn away anger
when i am tree
i bend with the wind
when i am water
i wear away stone
and know all the wise ways of flowing

when i am cat
i narrow my eyes
when i am dog
i am joyfully willing
when i am horse
i turn with the wind
this is my freedom in going

when i am hare
magic is mine
when i am raven
i watch still and clear
when i am wolf
i see who you are
this is the seeing of knowing

i will leap, bend and flow,
run, turn and go
return as i please
see what i see
magnetic paths pull above treetops
clouds cap the mountains that hide me
dark cool shadows in water
hidden things amongst leaves
as i make my own journey
i follow these old ways alone

water is a life giving blessing
the trees shelter us, breathing
the lone wolf protects the pack
energy runs with the horse
the world is mirrored in the eye of the raven
hidden, unhidden, bidden, unbidden
the hare runs the path of the circle unbroken
running fleet foot in pastures and hills
on horseback i chase the illusive hare
while the raven sits still in the oak
and watches, waiting for me

 

 

The Truth

 

i made a long journey
like many before me
i had my fair share
of incidents, mishaps
some were of my own making,
others were simply there,
awaiting the unwary traveller

i learned much of the woods
how to read all the signs
and hear the approach
of the seekers of prey

i had little respect
for robbers and bandits
i had seen all their kind before
i held no vendetta against them
i dislike them neither more, nor less, now
than i did when i took to the road

i had made my own problems too
i wished to be left alone
sometimes yearning for home
it’s true

woods seem full of shadows
but darkness contrasts the light
and lets in the brightness of day
where is gleams through the branches
making clearer the safer way

i came to a clearing and rested
enjoying the peace,
listening to leaves sigh high on a breeze
above in the trees that whispered

if only i could stay
resting here forever
i looked at the paths leading on

it was a beautiful day
i felt some sense of completion

a sharp snap and an echo
the silence was gone
the sound of movement,
coming towards me,
secretly, fast

i felt a moment of panic
caught unaware
as they gathered around
to circle and slay me at last

calming my mind
i looked at the paths
the choices were many
which one should it be

i heard a signal
the voice of a raven
he stood in the sunlight
on a broad ancient branch of a tree
lit against shadow
by a path i instantly knew

it was as i had always imagined
well lit and wide open
it shone out beckoning me
nothing to fear any more
my weariness melted away
i saw i was home
this open wide path
lead straight to the door
where my soul awaited within

 

 

Wayfarer

when i am fire
i burn away anger
when i am tree
i bend with the wind
when i am water
i wear away stone
and know all the wise ways of flowing

when i am cat
i narrow my eyes
when i am dog
i am joyfully willing
when i am horse
i turn with the wind
this is my freedom in going

when i am hare
magic is mine
when i am raven
i watch still and clear
when i am wolf
i see who you are
this is the seeing of knowing

i will leap, bend and flow,
run, turn and go
return as i please
see what i see
magnetic paths pull above treetops
clouds cap the mountains that hide me
dark cool shadows in water
hidden things amongst leaves
as i make my own journey
i follow these old ways alone

water is a life giving blessing
the trees shelter us, breathing
the lone wolf protects the pack
energy runs with the horse
the world is mirrored in the eye of the raven
hidden, unhidden, bidden, unbidden
the hare runs the path of the circle unbroken
running fleet foot in pastures and hills
on horseback i chase the illusive hare
while the raven sits still in the oak
and watches, waiting for me

Dear Wilf

There was a Raven called Wilf

Fairly quiet, he kept to himself,

‘What do you do all the time?’ I asked.

He blinked his mirrored eye.

‘What do you expect of a bird?’

he said, ‘I observe, observe, observe,

and I fly when I need to fly.”

 

‘And does that make you happy?’ I asked

He nodded his head, ‘Oh yes,

my happiness is complete,

far more than you could ever guess,

but I also like talking to you

and dropping a seed here and there.’’

I smiled, ‘Ah yes. Your troubles are seldom and few.”

 

Questioning the Raven

I watch the Raven

the Raven watches me

me stuck here on the ground

him high up in his tree

 

he cocks his head

does he question me?

wondering how i should answer

I nod back

 

I feel some sense of brotherhood

with this bright eyed bird

when he squawked and chuckled

did he think I understood?

 

who knows more

a man or a raven?

was he a man before?

will i become a bird?

 

if I knew the mind of a raven

maybe i could fly

if he thought he knew my mind

would he fly away?

 

I feel the need to speak

feel the feelings that are his

does he see how fragile

how unfathomable everything is?

 

does a raven even care

and should i?

i cock my head to the raven

he nods back